UNT Students Win Texas Undergraduate Moot Court Contest Hosted by Baylor Law School
by Alan Hunt, (254) 710-6271
Daniel Davis and Chelsea Mowrer, two students from the University of North Texas, won the annual moot court contest sponsored by the Texas Undergraduate Moot Court Association and held at the Sheila and Walter Umphrey Law Center on the Baylor University campus. A team from Stephen F. Austin University, Dan Keesee and Max Croes, took second place in the competition.
This is the 11th consecutive year that Baylor Law School has hosted the two-day event, which attracts nearly 50 teams from 17 universities across the Lone Star State. A record number of students competed in this year's contest, which was hosted by the Harvey M. Richey Moot Court Society of Baylor Law School and its president, Kristen Pauls. The society's members are law students who have excelled in the intra-school and interscholastic moot court competitions. Each student has achieved the rank of Barrister within the society. More than 80 Barristers participated as well as 40 third-quarter students who volunteered their services as bailiffs. The Barristers judged all rounds except the finals, which were judged by Baylor Law Dean Brad Toben and two members of the law school faculty, Professor Matt Cordon and Professor Rory Ryan.
Professor Ron Beal, faculty adviser to the Moot Court Society, said the hypothetical case argued in court by the students involved a request from church members who asked a city council permission to hold their Easter Celebration at a public park over a three-day period. The city council denied their request for a permit. "The city believed they were prohibited by the United States Constitution, specifically by what is known as the Establishment Clause, from 'promoting' a particular religious faith by the use of public property," Beal said. "The church asserted the city was violating their constitutional right of free speech and their right to the free exercise of their religious beliefs. The critical legal issue was how these various protections should be construed together when a religious group asked to use a public forum which was available to all persons engaging in secular activities."
Beal said the annual competition allows undergraduate students the opportunity to see if they enjoy thinking on their feet while they are being "grilled" by knowledgeable judges. "They get to see first-hand how the legal system works and just how difficult it is to stand in the shoes of the lawyer." He said that if the students enjoy this kind of experience, "they have been given a strong signal that law school is the next step for them."
Dean Brad Toben thanked Baylor Law School's faculty, staff and students for their assistance in hosting the contest. He said, "The competition has had a long and successful run with us and we have been pleased to provide the hospitality and venue to so many competitors and schools over the years."